Commercial game in a month, 10 days in

It’s been 10 days since I started working on my second commercial game.

Here’s what it looks like now:

I’ve been working mostly full time on this. The first version of the game is close to being done.

I thought you might be interested in the steps I took to get to this point. 

This can hopefully help you demystify the process a little bit.

Here they are:

  1. Get the game idea: I thought the mechanic of reflecting projectiles into enemies in my other game was fun but underused, so I wanted to make a full game around that.
  2. Create a new project in my engine (Game Maker Studio 2) and import all of the base modules I already developed: menus, input manager, fonts etc.
  3. Design and code the game loop with placeholder art. In my case, it means adding a room with a character, traps and enemies and coding the interactions between them.
  4. Add in basic art assets to get a feel for the overall art direction of the game.
  5. Polish the main mechanic of the game. I make sure it feels good to move the character around and hit things before adding in more content. (I’m using sound effects from various bundles I got online over the years)
  6. Add more content and game mechanics. I test those on the spot and get rid of them if they don’t work as well as I had expected.
  7. Add art for backgrounds and environment. 
  8. Set up a basic HUD layout.
  9. Design a simple logo. I looked for a font I liked on DaFont, made sure the license is good to use in commercial projects, chose a name and tweaked it a bit in my drawing app (Krita).
  10. Find some music that’s usable in commercial projects on Pond5. Download the track with the trademark and add it to the game. Make sure it fits before buying it.
  11. Add a progression system. I personally added 14 unlockable hats that change the stats and look of your character. I track and display the highest level the player has reached with each of those hats.
  12. Test, polish and balance everything.
  13. Add secondary features: saving, steam API, translations. (use this free localization sheet to get started) 

I’m still working on step 13 right now.

Here’s what I’m expecting is left to do after that (in no particular order):

  • Writing descriptions of different lengths for the different spots of the Steam / pages. Getting them translated to all the languages supported once they’re finalized.
  • Setting up a presskit with screenshots and a trailer.
  • Setting up the Steam page, designing all the key art necessary for that.
  • Running some kind of beta to fix the balancing and bugs and to get some feedback and early reviews. Tweaking the game until the reviews are positive to ensure they will be at launch too.
  • Putting together a list of influencers and press to contact, creating the template I’ll be using, deciding on a launch date. Sending the emails a week or more before launch.
  • Preparing some gifs and posts for imgur, reddit and other social media to be sent at launch or during the month leading up to launch.
  • Actually launching the game.

I’m probably missing a lot of steps. 

It’s hard to list out all of the tasks that need to be done beforehand.

But that’s why I’m doing this experiment and documenting everything. 

The only way to make sure we’re not forgetting anything is to actually do it.

Now, this isn’t a perfect process. I already took note of dozens of things I’ll need to fix and optimize before starting the next game.

But it’s totally fine. 

This is the first iteration of a system that’ll possibly help me launch games for years

…so it’s no surprise that the first one takes a bit more work to figure out.

Until next week,

Thomas Gervraud,
Developer of Space Gladiators: Escaping Tartarus